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Motivation: What is it and How do I get some?

Cambridge Dictionary defines MOTIVATION as:

enthusiasm for doing something: Many staff lack motivation and are resistant to change.”

Motivation can be broken down into two categories; extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is externally driven. Often the stimuli can be negative to promote the desired behavior, such as the action of a chain gang under the scrutiny of a prison guard. Remove the guard, the behavior will most likely return to less than positive.

Intrinsic motivation is internally driven, comes from within and is the only form of motivation that is sustainable!

As a coach, my role is to apply Modification and Motivational Strategies to guide clients in setting goals and to apply motivations tools to achieve those goals. Here are a few strategies that have proven very effective:

Written Agreements: These can be between the coach and the client, or between the person looking to make a change and an accountability group or person. They can be formal or informal, and as simple as posting on social media that you are going to run a certain race on this day! Making that public commitment and having others support and hold you accountable can be a powerful motivation tool.

Stimulus Control: These strategies are very potent and can really keep one on track towards their goal

  • To not miss a workout, or to optimize opportunity, keep a ready gym bag in one's car.

  • To prevent bad snacking, keep unhealthy food selections out of the house, and have healthy alternatives at the ready both at home and at work. Prep meals ahead of time, work late, no problem, healthy dinners at the ready. Do not allow fast food to be an option.

  • Make a weekly menu list, use to shape your grocery list, and again, have healthy meals and snacks at the ready.

  • Join a group or club that engages physical activities such as walking, hiking, running, swimming, biking, etc. The list is endless.

  • Join a group fitness class, established start time, extra push to get to the gym on time, no maybe later, we all know how that works out.

  • Do a healthy activity that you enjoy, will be more motivated to engage and keep doing

  • Find an accountability partner. I have a cycle buddy and trail running buddy. I may have moments when I feel inclined to let myself down, yet I will not let down those holding me accountable.

  • Schedule workout periods in one's calendar, treat like any other appointment, do not allow the option of canceling.

  • Most importantly, choose one's social network carefully. Genetics is not the major factor in determining your overall health, it is your social inner-circle. Socialize with like-minded healthy people. Hang around heavy drinkers and poor eaters can bet you’ll be doing the same.

Shaping: Actually real simple, go for the quick wins. Set small goals as part of a larger goal. “To lose 30 pounds” may at first be daunting, yet to establish the goal of losing three pounds in two weeks is very doable, and in achieving it further demonstrates that you can do it! Big changes come from achieving small goals! Set the stage to fuel the fire and increases motivation going forward. Everyone is good at something!!!!

Another strategy for guiding clients in reaching achieving a higher level of motivation and reaching their goals is Cognitive Behavior Techniques.

A technique that I find extremely effective is to have one to look beyond the WHY they should improve their health, yet to ask themselves the HOW their life will change and be different when they reach their health goal. Ask that one picture themselves being that person they want to be, and HOW they will be able to do all the things they currently can’t, such as playing with their grandchildren, going on the dream vacation, a life without medications, or as simple as fitting into that favorite dress. HOW would your life be different if all your health dreams come true???

Of course, for any goal to be achieved successfully, it is important that one’s goal setting is properly aligned with the desired outcome and well defined. I encourage my clients to use the SMART model in setting their goals. positive

  • S (Specific)- Goal needs to be specific, what is to be accomplished? I want to be healthy is too general, yet stating that I want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months and reduce my medication is specific. What will you do!

  • M (Measurable) - Goal has to measurable to allow tracking of progress. Did you or did you not active the desired outcome? Again, break down your larger goals into smaller, achievable goals, builds confidence. Success is the best motivator.

  • A (Achievable) - Is it possible to achieve this goal? Stating that you want to lose 150 pounds in 3 months and make the Olympic swim team may be a little hefty. Achieving attainable goals reinforces commitment and encourages one to continue the postive behavior.

  • R (Relevant) - Does one’s goals align with needs and abilities?

  • T (Time-bound) - Goals must have a timeline that can be monitored and progress evaluated. A goal without an end date is just a wish.

In summary, I encourage all to realize that everyone starts at a beginning, and get to where they want to be one step at a time. Don’t compare your goals with others, make your goals your own, and achieve them your way! Like I already stated, we are all good at something, focus on your strengths and build on your weaknesses.

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